Pedal-Powered Washing Machine Gets Big Company Backing

human-powered washing machine photo
Haier's bike-powered washing machine on display at a 2010 IFA trade show.

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Bike-powered washing machines aren't a new idea; however, at least one big appliance company is backing up the idea. Haier, a large electronics company out of China, showed off a human-powered washing machine concept at IFA 2010. It's fairly simple -- an exercise bike collects energy as the person pedals, and the charging battery then powers the washing machine. Supposedly 20 minutes of work is enough to wash one load of clothes on the cold cycle. The idea of using human power to get off-grid even a little bit is tempting -- and of course, gyms are becoming quick to harness the power of people exercising. But could it work at home?

Gizmag writes, "The rationale behind Haier's IFA display is that, like almost every major electronics manufacturer, it's keen to make consumers aware of its environmental commitment...That's not to say that the human-powered washer is a total gimmick. Haier told us that it is gauging consumer response at the show and might consider bringing the idea to market."

Even with a big company looking at pushing it forward, whether or not someone would bring this into their home is up in the air. I can see it being like one of those NordicTrack systems that seem so brilliant around the holidays when we're keen to lose a couple of pounds but lose its shine a couple of weeks later. After all, the Cyclean hasn't exactly taken off in the last four years.

But I have to say, as someone who likes to cycle for exercise and multitask, I'd definitely consider something like this. It'd not only save me money from the energy bill each month, but I'd be able to quit my gym and save money there too. Not a bad deal. And I'd be forced to exercise since being lazy means no clean clothes.

Even with Haier's backing, it seems very unlikely to be popular if it makes it to market. Plus, the bigger environmental issue with washing machines isn't their energy use but their water use. A bike-powered system would be better suited for the clothes dryer portion of a wash load.